Learning the “Soul of Parenting”

Barbara Lawlor

Parenting is one of the most complex jobs in the world. There are no absolute answers to questions, only suggestions as to what might work in specific circumstances, but having these tools is a priceless way to communicate with your children.
Last Thursday, Nov. 15, Batya Greenwald presented “The Soul of Parenting” at the Nederland Elementary School. Sponsored by the Nederland PTA, TEENS Inc., the Parent Engagement Network and the Drug Prevention Connection, the program attracted about 30 parents and teachers.
Greenwald was introduced as the Teacher from the Past Who Cares. The audience was told, “If you like what she says and it fits into your world, encourage the school to get the training.” Greenwald said we should focus on nurturing the inner life of our children; if not, we are setting ourselves up so they can’t learn.
She realized that this philosophy should join the Importance of Transition, especially from fifth to sixth grades. Many parents don’t realize this is a huge emotional issue and the children should be helped with making healthy goodbyes.
Seven gateways to the inner life of young people include silence, meaning and purpose, joy, creativity, transcendence, initiation and deep connection. Greenwald said that when we neglect children’s inner lives they will tend to seek meaning and beauty through what can be bought and sold; they will seek joy and transcendence through drugs, sex and dangerous risks; they will seek initiation through destructive rituals of peer hazing.
Greenwald’s presentation also included ways to sustain communication and connection. Keep adjusting to new needs and sales of connection and communication. Listen first. Go easy on advice. Start with appreciation. Notice what is working and affirm the strengths. Take time out with your child — a special lunch, dinner, date or trip. Develop a relationship with your children’s friends and their parents and seek other adults who can be mentors to your children.
Understanding and employing these actions can help a parent connect to their children, which is one of the ways to good parenting.